In LD26 War, DeCroce Adamant about not Getting ‘Squeezed Out’

With algae bloom closing the lake to swimmers, local office holders and candidates are trying to portray themselves as chief protectors of Lake Hopatcong, the state’s largest freshwater lake, going forward.

Chip Robinson was “watching” Morris Republicans at play last Friday night.

OK, maybe not literally watching, but the Morris County Democratic chair said today that he heard some reports.

And he liked hearing what he did.

“I think it helps us,” Robinson said, referring to the GOP’s vote not to endorse incumbent Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce for reelection in LD-26. Instead, the county committee in its first-ever endorsement convention backed incumbent Jay Webber and newcomer Christian Barranco.

Robinson’s reasoning is that a looming contested primary and hard feelings can only hurt the GOP ticket in the fall. Of course, avoiding that type of thing is precisely why Morris Republicans instituted a “county line” this year.

At the same time, Robinson has no illusions.

“It’s still a tough lift for us,” he said.

Republicans hold close to a 12,000 registered vote lead in a district that covers eastern Morris, four towns in Essex (Fairfield, West Caldwell, North Caldwell and Verona) and West Milford in Passaic.

The Democratic Assembly candidates are Melissa Brown Blaeuer of West Milford and Pamela Fadden of Jefferson.

As for Republicans, the machinations continue this week when Essex Republicans are scheduled to make an endorsement. Sources say Webber figures to be the odd man out. That was also the case in Passaic County, where the GOP endorsed Barranco and DeCroce on Saturday morning.

When all the internal skirmishing ends, the “new guy,” Barranco, may be the only one with endorsements from the district’s all three GOP committees. Go figure.

Looking ahead, DeCroce remains confident, saying today she has no idea who’s going to be “squeezed out” of the Assembly picture, but it’s not going to be her.

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